health, but did you know that in high doses they may also slow cognitive decline? Omega-3 fatty acid sup-


plementation has been stud- ied extensively as a thera- peutic intervention, demon- strating promise in the treat- ment of neurological condi- tions such as bipolar disor- der and severe depression. In a quest for safe, effec-

tive treatment options for cognitive decline, research- ers at the University of Southern California (USC) tested omega-3 supplemen- tation for potential value in slowing the onset of Al- zheimer's disease (AD) in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial. According to senior au-

thor of the study Dr. Hussein Yassine, associate professor of medicine and neurology at the Keck School of Medi- cine of USC, there is significant extant research supporting the preventive potential of omega-3 fatty acids, however, there is no data on the specific dosage required to achieve benefits in the fight against cognitive decline. "Trials have been built on the assumption that omega-3s get

into the brain," Dr. Yassine said in a news release. "Our study was specifically designed to address this question."

Brave Volunteers Help Science to Slow Alzheimer's Dr. Yassine and his team of researchers conducted a small-

scale clinical trial in which participants made a brave sacrifice on behalf of scientific advancement. To determine how much omega-3 supplement is absorbed

by the central nervous system versus remaining suspended in the bloodstream, in addition to blood draws, study volunteers were required to undergo two lumbar punctures, or spinal taps, in which a hollow needle pierces the lower back. One procedure was performed at commencement to estab-

lish baseline levels, with another performed upon completion of the study period. Researchers gathered these samples of blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid in order to gauge whether omega-3s had reached the brain, and if so, in what amounts.

22 Health Benefits of Omega 3's

mega-3 fatty acids are known to be good for heart

Scientists measured lev-

els of two different omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapen- taenoic acid (EPA). The trial consisted of 33 participants with risk factors for Alzheim- er's disease, including a family history of AD, seden- tary lifestyle and a diet low in fatty fish. At the time of the intervention, none of the participants were cognitively impaired. Out of the 33 total par-

ticipants, 15 carried the gene variant APOE4, which is linked to inflammation in the brain and increases the risk of developing AD by a factor of four or more. The other 18 partici-

pants were non-carriers of this variant. Participants were organized into two groups: control and treat- ment. The treatment group took supplements of more than 2 grams daily of DHA

for six months. The control group took identical daily placebo capsules over the same time period. Both groups took daily B- complex vitamins for optimal metabolic processing of omega-3s.

Genetics May Affect Omega-3 Absorption After the six-month intervention period was complete and analysis of biofluid samples were finalized, the treatment group participants who took omega-3 supplements had 200% more DHA in their blood compared to the control group. DHA levels in cerebrospinal fluid were 28% higher in the

treatment group than the control group, indicating a far lower absorption rate of omega-3s in the brain than is detectable in the bloodstream. Among the individuals in the treatment group without the

APOE4 genetic mutation that heightens the risk for Alzheimer's, there was three times as much anti-inflammatory EPA detected in cerebrospinal fluid than in those with the APOE4 variant. This finding indicates that individuals with risk factors for AD may require higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids in order to achieve therapeutic levels in the brain. "[APO]E4 carriers, despite having the same dose, had less omega-3s in the brain. This finding suggests that EPA is either

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